Fielder Left in Dust in HR Derby

By Rob Parker - Sports Columnist
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DETROIT - Before MLB's Home Run Derby on Monday night here at Citi Field, Prince Fielder was being talked up.

In fact, Miguel Cabrera, Fielder's teammate and fellow bash brother, had a prediction.

"I'm picking my guy," Cabrera said about Fielder. "He's going to win again, he can win a third time."

That's mostly because Fielder has the perfect uppercut home run swing and he won this event last season and in 2009.

But Oakland A's slugger Yoenis Cespedes had another idea.

Cespedes won the event in spectacular fashion over Washington Nationals phenom Bryce Harper.

For sure, fans got their money's worth unless you were only rooting for Fielder. He had just five bombs in first round, including a 483-foot HR.

The blast bash was the opening act to the 84th annual All-Star Game, which will be played Tuesday night.

And while the actual game features the best of the best in the two leagues. Baseball is about sluggers, mashers. You know, chicks love the long ball.

"He's incredible," said Harper about Cespedes. "He's an absolute machine."

And we weren't cheated at all.

It was hard to not be up out of your chair -- both at home and at the stadium -- when Cespedes went deep 17 times in the first round, 12 went at least 400 feet.

It was the start of a magical night for Cespedes, who came to this country a few years ago from Cuba.

Heck, this guy didn't even make the All-Star team. He was chosen by American League Derby captain Robinson Cano. And you thought picking Jay-Z as his agent was his best move.

There was a lot of talk about Fielder and Baltimore's Chris Davis, who entered the break with a MLB-leading 37 homers, coming into the event.

But Cespedes stole the show in the first round, flexing muscles The Rock could only dream about.

In the second round, it was Harper -- who won even be 21 until October. He clubbed eight to jump into the finals.

In the finals, Harper, batting first, had eight. It was all about whether eight would be enough.

Cespedes hit his first homer in the final round with his first swing. It was the beginning of the end for Harper.

"You come to New York for a show and he put on a show," said Tigers' starter Max Scherzer, who will start for the American League.

Cespedes, who hit a total of 32 HRs against 25 outs in the competition, won it with an absolute blast to center field, a 455-foot shot. It gave him nine homers, besting Harper.

"This stadium is difficult, but it's not as difficult as Oakland," Cespedes, who easily tamed Citi Field.

It's why you have to tune in for this event every single year. Hitting a ball out of a stadium - even in batting practice - remains a special feat.

That's why this event is better than the NBA's Slam Dunk contest. Plus, stars bow out of the event in the NBA.

Can you say, boring? Plus, the also-rans, barely-heard-of NBA players have dominated the event in recent years.

In fact, last year Terrence Ross from the Toronto Raptors won. In 2012, it was Jeremy Evans from the Utah Jazz. It has gotten so comical, hokey that little man Nate Robinson has won the event three times in the last eight years. Enough already.

Think about this. LeBron James, considered one of the greatest players of all time, has never been in the dunk contest.

That's a bad look.

Even Michael Jordan participated in one and won it in Chicago in 1988.

Sadly, sometimes the players forget these events are for the fans. And it's still those fans who fuel the games.

Baseball players get it. It's not a pain for them to take part and flex their muscles. Fielder could have easily been happy with his first title in 2009 and retired from the exhibition.

Instead, here he was for the third time in five years. Fielder is a star, but not too big to celebrate his game and delight the fans that enjoy the sport.

Boston's David Ortiz won in 2010 and Cano won in 2011, more stars in the game.

Baseball is criticized often these days about the things it does wrong.

This event isn't one of them. It's a jewel at the midsummer classic.

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